A Culture of Appreciation & Affirmation Builds Productivity


“My Pleasure!” Certainly, if you’ve eaten at any Chick-fil-a restaurant, you’ve heard those words – multiple times during each visit. And, in my opinion, each employee is sincere as he/she speaks those words. How do they do it? Well, Chick-fil-a raises its own employees in an incubator. No, of course not. Part of it is training. But there is much more to the sincerely spoken words than training alone.

Chick-fil-a has created a culture of appreciation and affirmation, from the corporate offices to each and every store. If those doing the hiring, training, leading, and managing do not exemplify the appreciation and affirmation attributes necessary, the employees will not either. The same is true in your environment be it at the office, on the factory line, running cable, in your church or other organization. If you desire an effective, productive environment, you must create and exemplify a culture that demonstrates these and other qualities.

The more a person is affirmed, the more he will feel appreciated. The more one feels appreciated, the more productive he will be. Each time you express appreciation for one of your employees, volunteers, you are affirming him/her. Appreciation and affirmation lead to productivity and happier employees (volunteers).

While working in retail management, I could tell the type of managers/leaders in every store simply by observing and interacting with the employees. I did not have to ask any questions about their “boss.” Employees actions, voice tone, and inflection are tells of the type manager/leader to whom they report.

As I read, research, and speak with leaders of productive organizations I find one of the common denominators is an attitude of gratitude from the leaders to the employees/volunteers. It seems the more leaders affirm and show appreciation to the workers, the more productive the workers are. Not only productivity, but this attitude also seems to rub off. The employees/volunteers also demonstrate an attitude of gratitude and appreciation toward their leaders and clients/customers.

Creating a culture of appreciation and affirmation doesn’t take a degree or years of classroom study. It simply requires practice and a genuine spirit. One leader told me, “We say thank you a lot.” Appreciation does not always mean spending money on promotions, steak dinners, and doughnuts (although those are nice). This organization, like others, found that simply saying a genuine “Thank you!” carries more weight than a box of doughnuts.

I agree and attempt to do the same thing. I say thank you a lot – and I speak genuinely when I do. When you see someone doing something right – even if it is her job, say “Thank you.” When you see one person helping another, say, “Thank you.” When you see someone pick up a piece of trash, even a small gum wrapper, say, “Thank You!” Creating a culture of appreciation and affirmation takes more than a thank you. But it is a great place to start. Affirm those you lead each day.

What will you do this week to improve and demonstrate your attitude of gratitude? Don’t stop after one week. Creating a different culture in your organization begins with you and requires an ongoing lifestyle from you.

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.

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